Monday, February 18, 2013

Estimates of Bakken Recoverable Oil

I think the official USGS estimate for recoverable oil in the Bakken is about 3 billion barrels, based on an old study; I think the last study was done in 2008, but I've lost track of a lot of this stuff. Hardly matters any more, does it?

Continental Resources is pushing the envelope, estimating as much as 24 billion bbls recoverable oil in a trillion-barrel original-oil-in-place shale reservoir.

According to Fox Business, NDIC puts the number at 6.5 billion bbls recoverable oil. To date, slightly less than one-fourth billion bbls have been recovered. So when four times the current total produced has been shipped, the Bakken will still be less than a billion bbls recovered. Then, only 5.5 billion more bbls to go ... and that's the NDIC estimate. As noted above, Harold Hamm suggests 24 billion. 


  1. A while back I copied the NDIC’s data for Bakken-only production to a spreadsheet so I could do some analysis and prep my own graphs. Hey, I’m an accountant - we do things like that. I only copied the data back to ’96 and not ’53, but those monthly amounts are really small, like around 10K per month with a high of 100k for a few months.

    I calculate the total of Bakken-only production at 527,844,985 barrels. Call it 0.5 billion.

    At that rate, there is *only* 13 times more oil to extract that has been done to date assuming the NDIC estimate of 6.5B you cite. With Hamm’s suggestion of 24B, there are 48 barrels to go for every one that has been extracted.

    1. Thank you. It really is quite amazing.

      This is what I find most interesting: there are alternative "plays" in the US: the Utica, and the Eagle Ford, particularly. I believe the Eagle Ford will provide a better return on investment; I don't know the environmental pushback and challenges in Ohio/the Utica.

      I would think there is legitimate concern that drillers might migrate to those areas (the Eagle Ford and the Utica) but the tea leaves (based on continued CAPEX planned by drillers for the Bakken; and services, such as BNSF) suggest there is as much interest as ever in the Bakken, despite these "competitors.

      I suppose the all the infrastructure put in place over the past five years in the Bakken is starting to yield huge dividends.

      By the way, back to your original comment/the original post: there's quite a wide gap between 3 billion, 6 billion, and 24 billion. Even if Harold Hamm is half right, he would be estimating 12 billion bbls of recoverable oil.

  2. the USGS revised estimate will be something shy of Hamn's 24B